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Apollo 10's "Snoopy" Moon Lander may have been found in outer space



Apollo 11 was the first mission that landed humans on the lunar surface. Apollo, however, relied on many predecessor missions to lay the foundation for the successful mission to the Moon. One of them was Apollo 10, the fourth mission with crew in the Apollo program.

Apollo 10 was an almost complete mission that included everything Apollo 11 had, except for an actual moon landing. It was a dress rehearsal and the second Apollo mission that orbited the moon. It even had an Apollo lunar module, which was flown within 15 km of the lunar surface. But this module never landed, and after it had agreed with the command module and the crew disembarked, it was put into orbit around the sun.

And so far nobody knew where it was.

The Moon Land of Apollo 10 had a nickname. It was called "Snoopy" after the dog in the Peanuts comic by Charles Schulz. NASA was of the opinion that naming the Lander and Command Module from the popular comic would help children become interested in the mission. (The command module was called "Charlie Brown.") Snoopy was sent without further thought to circle the sun, and no one thought of keeping track.

  The Apollo 10 Command Module was called
The Apollo 10 Command The module was named Charlie Brown. This picture shows Charlie Brown from the Snoopy Lunar Lander. Picture credits: NASA.

In 2011, a group of amateur astronomers in the UK began searching for Snoopy. At this time, Universe Today covered the efforts of amateur astronomer Nick Howes to search for Snoopy. He already had some successes: he had organized an action with the Faulkes Telescope Project, where schools were looking for asteroids and comets.

At the time, Howes and his team had a huge search field because the orbital data of Apollo 10 was scarce. In 2011, Howes told Universe Today, "We expect a search spread of up to 135 million kilometers, which is an enormous amount of space."

Well, 8 years later, Howes believes that this is the case At last found Snoopy.

  Apollo 10 commander Thomas Stafford pats a stuffed Snoopy as he makes his way to launch. Picture credits: NASA.
Apollo 10 commander Thomas Stafford pats a stuffed Snoopy as he starts. Picture credits: NASA.

A report on Sky News states that the team is almost certain that it has found it. Or at least 98% sure. And when they find it, they hit the 235 million to do it. Very impressive performance.

Howes said in an interview with Newsweek: "We are relatively confident. The heliocentric orbit looks good, the object is artificial and the size is right. "Howes and his team are not sure yet. This requires closer observation, but Snoopy is too far removed.

Howes emphasized that some agencies need to take a closer look before they can confirm that the object is Snoopy.

the bare essentials to retrieve it at some point. You never know, but if Elon Musk would follow any well-intentioned suggestion, his calendar would be terribly busy.

It remains to be seen if Snoopy was found. If so, this is a very interesting development. And that's not just because there is little chance of restoring it in the future. That's because of the story.

The famous Apollo 10 Earthrise video. Credit: NASA

With the imminent 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, it's a great opportunity to look beyond this successful historic mission and to acknowledge previous efforts. In fact, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 10 came and went on May 22, when in 1969 Snoopy approached the lunar surface the closest. Imagine crewmembers Eugene Cernan and Thomas Stafford getting so close to the moon but not landing. (Cernan believed that NASA deliberately did not give them enough fuel if they were tempted.)

In the end, Howes is realistic about how likely it is to recover Snoopy. That would be at best a frivolous use of funds, though individuals like Musk can freely spend their money as they see fit. Anyway, a 1969 lunar module may seem very frivolous.

It will be About 18 years before Snoopy approaches Earth. A lot can happen in 18 years. Who knows? Maybe Snoopy will finally come home.

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